Enhanced color animation points out Ceres surface features in a way never portrayed before. The video, courtesy of the German Aerospace Center DLR simulates a unique view of a simulated flight over the dwarf planet’s surface.
The enhanced color animation is based on snapshots captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from a distance of only 900 miles. These are the most detailed images of Ceres surface features ever captured. The color filter used by the team with the German Aerospace Center is an add-on to emphasize each and every one of the features which have been recently uncovered.
The subtle differences noticed in the enhanced color animation should bring a more intimate understanding of the age of these various surface features. Here is the video recently posted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory:
The brighter blue shades you noticed indicate the younger features of the dwarf planet. With a different texture and with different surface materials, these are the flows, cracks and pits of Ceres as captured by Dawn spacecraft.
If you remember all the hype surrounding the mysterious bright spots on Ceres, you will find those regions mirrored here as well. Scientists believe these bright spots may be salts deposits. Another theory was that the bright spots could be icy patches. The darker, brown regions are rich in phyllosilicates, a component typically indicative of clay.
Thus, the enhanced color animation points out Ceres surface features, including the infamous craters on the dwarf planet’s surface. Occator crater and Ahuna Mons are contrasting craters. While Ahuna Mons has a conic shape, Occator crater is a sheer surface feature. Dantu crater and Yalode crater are flat craters indicative of a different formation period.
The images used in the enhanced color animation were captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft between August and October 2015. According to Ralf Jaumann with the DLR,
“The simulated overflight shows the wide range of crater shapes that we have encountered on Ceres. The viewer can observe the sheer walls of the crater Occator, and also Dantu and Yalode, where the craters are a lot flatter”.
Dawn spacecraft is the first to reach Ceres for an in-depth analysis of the dwarf planet. Ceres is the largest object located in the asteroid belt bridging the distance between Jupiter and Mars. Dawn’s Ceres mission began on March 2015 after the spacecraft had orbited the asteroid Vesta.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena hosts the headquarters of the Dawn mission. The Italian Space Agency, the Italian National Astrophysical Institute, the Max Planck Institute and the German Aerospace Center are also involved in the workings of Dawn mission.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia